“One of best comedy festivals in the world” The Guardian

A panel of experts have selected the comedians they predict will make it big in 2016. The panel have selected the acts, all of whom are performing at Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival 2016, which they think will become household names over the next 12 months. The list has been selected by Bruce Dessau, Evening Standard’s comedy journalist and editor of Beyond the Joke; Kate Copstick, comedy critic and TV presenter; Bob Slayer, promoter and comedian and Corrie McGuire, founder of ROAR Comedy.

Spencer Jones received the most mentions from our panel, who praised his knockabout, almost silent style “using toys as props and recalling Tommy Cooper and Rowan Atkinson. It’s silly and stupid but you can’t stop yourself from loving it… Clowning has become a regular fixture of the comedy world in recent years with the likes of Dr Brown showing that there is an enthusiastic audience for weird, wordless humour.”

Sam Simmons, winner of the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award 2015, has been a stalwart of the avant-garde live comedy scene for some time, but our panel predict that 2016 will be the year he breaks into the mainstream: “In his latest show, Spaghetti for Breakfast, he welded his weirdness to some more relatable gags about the things in life that wind him – and us – up.” Simmons will be performing work in progress of his new show, “Sam Simmons Is Not A People Person” at Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival – one of the first opportunities for UK audiences to see what he’s got in store for 2016.


Elf Lyons has only been performing comedy for a few years, but she’s already garnering a lot of industry attention, with our panel saying: “She is a delightful performer…entirely sui generis. She is her own hilarious creation and time in her poshly funny, self deprecating company is a genuine joy.”

Adam Larter is best known in comedy circles as the founder of Weirdos Comedy Club, famous for its unhinged alternative Christmas pantos and for an impressive collective of alternative comedians. Our panel predicts big things for Larter in 2016, stating: “Adam Larter is the most prolific writer of successful full length shows putting out several different hour shows each year that now regularly sell out (his Harry Potter show sold out Leicester Square Theatre’s main room, his panto sold out a 4 night run in advance). He is a true creative but he is also threatening to burst beyond the wonderful cult following.”

Tim Renkow, winner of the Leicester Square New comedian of the Year 2013 and nominated for the Chortle Best Newcomer Award 2014, is known for shocking audiences up and down the country with his brutally honest material, often drawing upon his cerebral palsy and southern American background. Our panel predict with jokes so strong, Renkow is destined for success in 2016: “Tim Renkow is one of the very best joke writers on the circuit and has an unbelievably high rate of smashing gigs.”


Sofie Hagen broke through last year with her Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards 2015 best newcomer show Bubblewrap, which our panel described as “funny, moving and beautifully crafted.” 2016 could well be the year that sees her go stellar.

Mat Ewins is a writer and comic performer whose blend of stand-up, sketch, and character comedy is inventive, original and hilarious in equal measure. Hailing from Leicester, Ewins has been roundly praised for his live work, but our panel think 2016 could be the year that marks Ewins out from the rest: “Mat Ewins has a unique mind, he is in his 7th year, this is the one!”

James Loveridge was a runner up in the Amused Moose Laugh Off Final 2015. In his first year he made the Semi-Final of ‘So You Think You’re Funny?’, won The Comedy Cafe New Act Night on his first attempt as well as beating the King Gong at The Comedy Store in Leicester Square. Our panel say simply, “he’s an absolute joy.”

Jim Smallman is not what you’d call a newcomer; he’s been performing comedy since 2005. But the stand out story behind his 2015 show My Girls (nominated for Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival Best New Show last year) is his most honest and personal to date. Smallman will be performing work in progress of his new show, Biscuits For All, and our panel “can’t wait to see his new show”.

Marny Godden brought to life a collection of very colourful characters as part of hugely popular cult comedy show The Grandees. She brings her debut solo show to Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival; a mixture of clowning and storytelling, marking her out as a bold new voice in comedy, which our panel call “crazy talented.”

Geoff Rowe, Founder and Director of Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival, said: “Discovering the rising stars in comedy and experiencing the variety of unique events happening across the city is what makes Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival special. Festival goers can also expect to be one of the first to see new material from established UK comedians, making the festival the ultimate UK destination in February”.

Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival 2016 runs from the 3-21 February, with over 780 shows across more than 65 city venues.

● The complete programme is available now

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● Twitter: @DavesLeicsFest